March 28th, 2013
01:45 PM ET

Atheism finding its way

By Libby Lewis, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @LibbyLewisCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – This is the 50th anniversary of the American Atheists – that’s the hard-line atheist group with those in-your-face billboards that show Jesus in the manger with the words "You Know It's a Myth."

It's coming at a time when the number of non-believers is growing in America – especially among the ones under 35 – according to the Pew Research Center.

Tomorrow, the American Atheists are meeting to note their half-century mark and to talk about the future. So, which way is this movement headed?

David Silverman is president of the American Atheists.

"We only have one thing that binds us: that’s our lack of belief in God….You can be Republican or Democrat… rich or poor… pro choice or anti-abortion and still be an atheist. You can be pro American or anti American and still be an atheist."

So, what’s a movement to do?

Atheist Jamila Bey says she thinks – it’s going to go in a lot of directions.

"You have folks who are going to run for office... You’ve got David Silverman who’s like the Marine leading the charge….You’ve got other people who take a more placid approach and say, We’re going to do this Habitat for Humanity house-building project – but we’re going to wear tee shirts that say “Logic” and “Reason” on them."

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  1. charlie4darwin

    "We are already beginning to see the rumblings of discontent among scientists in the broader scientific community about being associated with some of the atheist hierarchy like Pope Dawkins and their assertion that somehow science and atheism go hand in hand"

    And what evidence have you to support this ridiculous statement? I hear no rumblings. Should you go on to quote eminent buffoons such as the sad Francis Crick, I can only say it's a shame he has lost his marbles in his declining years. Most other 'scientists' who support biblical belief seem to have been bought by the Templeton Foundation, so zero credibility there.

    Your pathetic bias is amply demonstrated by the silly comment 'Pope Dawkins'... juvenile, you must admit.
    "a statement is only true if it can be empirically verified"- absolutely; anything else is either supposition or superstition. Do you have any understanding of fact versus self-delusion?

    March 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. davidpun

    I have to admit I struggle somewhat with the definition of a group by what it does NOT believe rather than what it does. To me that is a recipe for disaster. We are already beginning to see the rumblings of discontent among scientists in the broader scientific community about being associated with some of the atheist hierarchy like Pope Dawkins and their assertion that somehow science and atheism go hand in hand. Their idea is that the fundamental principle behind science is also behind what determines our values. In their view there is ONLY the empirical world and nothing else.
    Consequently when we search for what is true in our lives, atheists like Dawkins and Harris are stuck with the principle that "a statement is only true if it can be empirically verified" ?
    The problem about using Dawkins criterion is that this criterion cannot actually establish its own truth!!! So science has to be a restricted and self contained criterion for truth limited to evaluation of the empirical world. It cannot , by definition, be broad enough to help us navigate the universe of significance and values. That is where religion comes in. Not in trying to explain the physical, empirical dimension of the universe. Science will always dominate there and rational people should seriously resist any attempts by religion to ever attempt to displace science in that domain. But in the domain of values and morals, as I have shown, that is logically inconsistent.

    March 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • IowAtheist

      This is the standard 'argument from morality' for religion, and it flat-out fails as a supporting argument.

      Let us first propose, as is common in the US, a monotheistic universe in which the God of the bible, in fact, exists, and that the instructions in the bible are, in fact, directly from god and subsist of the entire doctrine of morality. Explain why slavery is then immoral, since the bible clearly permits owning those not from your own tribe? The bible commands us to stone people to death for various crimes (such as disobedience to parents, unfaithfulness in marriage, etc.) yet we do not exercise the biblical right to capital punishment for such seemingly trivial crimes; are we then not living up to God's moral standards, or are we instead determining our own morality? I mean, it's a sin to wear two kinds of cloth or plant two kinds of seeds in a single field, or eating pork or shellfish, but we don't seem to have any problem with ignoring these "divine" rules. So who's in charge here, us or him?

      I submit that clearly, we humans have always determined our own morality independant of the moral dictates of god, regardless of our belief (or lack thereof) in him, her, them, it, whatever. You might read Plato's Euthypro dialogue for more on god and morality, for even though it was written in regards to the Greek Pantheon, the core lesson holds true for any deity: that which is inherently good, is good whether it is god-loved or not.

      March 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • charlie4darwin

        The 'morality from religion' argument is so tiresome and false by its own evidence; Islam is the best proof that God's morality is utterly savage, vicious and completely at odds with civilised behaviour.

        March 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
        • FredB

          The Holy Bible, God's inerrant word does a pretty good job of destroying any argument for taking one's moral compass from God or his awful book.

          March 31, 2013 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |